Friday, February 24, 2006

Perspective and Baseball

"Sheetswannabe", a poster from Brewerfan.net, started a thread about Moeller a few days ago. In that thread, he made this comment:

"I personally think he [Moeller] will be the most improved player, behind Weeks and Hardy. I'd imagine .245 avg. That would help out a lot, Millers getting older, and still reminds me of the catcher on Major league. Moeller NEEDS to step it up if we want to succeed."


While his batting average prediction may prove to be correct, I can't agree with the level of importance he places on it actually occurring. Two reasons:

1. Batting average is just a small part of the run production equation. A player can add 40 points to his batting average without significantly improving his offensive worth.

2. Backup catchers typically get a maximum of about 200 ABs. As a result, their offensive impact is usually only about 1/3 the size of a starting player. They also typically stink.

For Moeller to improve to a .245 BA in 2006 in the same amount of ABs from last year (199) , he'd need to convert 8 of his outs into singles. Doing only that, this is what his 2006 line would be:
             BA   OBP   SLG   OPS
2005: .206 .257 .367 .624
2006: .245 .294 .407 .701
Ave 05 C: .254 .313 .391 .704

Using linear weights, that has a run value of:

8 x (.1 runs/out + .47 run/single) = 4.6 runs

4.6 runs is about half a win. While that's not insignificant, there are bigger sources for potential improvement in 2006. For instance, Weeks having a breakout year would have a huge impact on improving "runs scored" from 2005. Let's say Weeks did this in the upcoming season:
   
AB BA OBP SLG OPS BRC

Brew 2B 05 625 .250 .333 .414 .748 86
Weeks 06 625 .275 .375 .475 .850 111
---
+25

Even if he only marginally surpasses his PECOTA projection of .267/.361/.462, he'll be worth about 2.5 wins over what all Brewer second basemen combined for last year. That's about a 5 times greater impact than Moeller batting .245.

I appreciate that part of Sheetswannabe's concern is that Miller's nagging injuries will give Moeller more playing time in 2006. I guess I'm confident that Miller can atleast match his 385 AB from last year. That really wasn't much to begin with.

The above calculations are only rough estimates, but they still have alot of value. Weeks has a much greater chance of positively influencing the offense this year than Moeller. Backup catchers just aren't that important, relative to a starting positional player.

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